New Year New Food!

What do aliens eat?  Do they have the same food groups as earthlings?  Do they care about eating local, organic and fair trade?  What do their fruits and vegetables taste like, look like?  Do they even eat?  Or, have they done away with eating, which would be sad.  I am fantasizing about alien cuisine because I’ve got food fatigue.   That is what I am experiencing more and more these days.  You must have those days too where you just can’t stomach another boring bowl of oatmeal, spring mix salad, or chicken breast.  I want to travel with my tongue.

And so it was with gratitude that I came across 2014’s top ingredients of the year.  And I find myself behind the food trend because it is now 2015 and there are foods from last year’s list that I have never heard of, ie. shishitos, leaf lard (I didn’t know leaves have fat) and gribenes to name a few.  But I am happy to say there are many ingredients that are staples in my pantry.

The number one ingredient of last year is the spice mixture, zaatar, I remember reading about it a few years ago when it first burst onto the culinary scene, but have never tried it.  Until now, it is a new year and new food, well, at least for me.  So I went on the hunt for zaatar, and found it at a Mediterranean market.  What exactly is zaatar? It is a mixture of herbs – thyme, oregano, marjoram – sumac and sesame seeds.  You may be familiar with the first three ingredients, but sumac?  What the heck is that?  When I had gone to Turkey in the past, I brought some sumac back and didn’t really know what to do with it.  But it is a berry that is dried and then ground into a powder.  It has a tangy citrusy flavor.

Spicy Chickpeas 2 Kake2Kale

Continue reading

Celebrating at Chau

Kale and I are celebrating the 6-month anniversary of our blog so we wanted to go to a restaurant that represented who we are.  Kale and I are Asian and consider ourselves to be modern and have good taste, so I thought Chau (in Vancouver) would be the perfect place to go to.  Having been there before, I knew Kale would like it.  I had just returned from sunny, though sub-zero, Ottawa and woke up to a gloomy dreary rain-whipped day in Vancouver, aiyah!  But the blue sky poked through the angry clouds on our way to Chau and we felt the heavens smiling down upon with us.

Kake2kale @ Chau 1

Chau is a hip and contemporary, vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant that serves fresh, flavourful and satisfying dishes.   Vegan and gluten free options are also available.  We started off with taro chips served with a fragrant tofu dip.  Then we had my favourite dish, the Golden Temple (top picture below).   It is a light turmeric curry broth with tofu, broccoli, yam, lotus root, taro, kale, and herbs. I enjoy it best with quinoa and a side of free range eggs.  We also ordered the Moonlit Midnight Swim (right-hand image, below superfoods list), which is a wild rice blend with tofu, kale, mushrooms, lotus root, a spiced peanut mushroom sauce, and topped with roasted peanuts and seeds.  These dishes are filled to the brim with superfoods – kale, yam, broccoli, herbs, egg, quinoa, and turmeric broth.

Kake2kale @ Chau 2

Here are some of the superfoods we had:

Kale:  Has over 45 different flavonoids which have both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as loads of calcium.
Quinoa:  Contains quercetin which is a natural anti-histamine (helps with allergies), and quinoa contains all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein.
Turmeric:  Anti-inflammatory and has anti-cancer properties.
Taro:  It has a low glycemic level, which means, it won’t spike your blood sugar, high in fiber, high in B vitamins and minerals.

Kake2kale @ Chau 3

We toasted our achievement with the Coconut Shake, a creamy coconutty, refreshing  counterpoint to the savoury food.  The meal felt like we’d been whisked away to a tropical island, which was perfect since yesterday I was in Ottawa with my face frozen numb.  Check out Chau at chowatchau.ca, particularly their menu.

Kake2kale @ Chau 4

As I reflect upon the last six months since starting our blog, my first thought is how my friendship with Kale is being enriched, it is going better than I could’ve expected.  We seem to have the perfect partnership.  First, while I enjoy writing, Kale prefers  taking photographs (I’ve tried, but I am definitely not talented with a camera).   Second, it’s fun to share my healthful, tasty recipes and use ingredients that are foreign in my kitchen.  Thirdly, I have a greater appreciation for photography and Kathy’s great “eye” for getting the right angle.  Lastly, I am intimidated by social media, but Kale embraces technology.  I look forward to another six months of more superfoods adventures!

Eat well!  Live great! {Kake}

By design, the past year was meant to be a time of change, transition and discovery.  I had no idea that I would be involved in a blog, let alone working on it with my sister-in-law; but our collaboration has turned out to be one of the best experiences of 2014!  I love that our skills and interests are complementary, allowing our creative process to flow naturally.   We are also having fun with it, together, and I couldn’t imagine a better partnership. And,  even though we’ve been friends since the age of eight, we’re still learning new things about each other.  I continue to be impressed with Kake’s nutritional knowledge, culinary and writing abilities.  Just as important, Kake2kale has allowed me to do what I love – photography, food and travel!

I believe we are staying true to our mantra – to share our adventures searching for tasty and healthy superfoods, through our recipes, travels, photography, and stories.  We’re excited about the months and years ahead for the blog, particularly with new ideas and more interviews with people making a difference in wellness and superfoods.  We thank you for enjoying and following Kake2kale!

Travel Far, Explore More! {Kale}

Is Paleo for You?

What do you picture when you hear the word Paleo?  Half clad hairy ape-like people where the men carry big clubs (not for golf) chasing down wild beasts as the women huddle around a fire, while skinning the wild beasts that the men have clubbed to death.  Or do you picture healthy, shiny-faced lean people munching on a plate of veggies with a side of meat.  If the first image is what you see, then you are definitely behind the times and need to catch up.

The word Paleo is gaining popularity like “yoga” once did.  There’s the Paleo lifestyle, Paleo diet, and Paleo workout.  I’ve been hearing of the Paleo diet for a couple of years now, and especially the testaments of weight loss and improved health.  One would think that meat would be a large component of the Paleo diet.  But meat actually comprises only a small percentage of the diet, and the balance is made up of fruits and vegetables.  That’s about all I know about this trend, so when {Kale} recently met a follower of the Paleo lifestyle we wanted to find out more and organized an interview with her for our blog.

Paleo Diet 5 kake2kale

Natalie Cishecki calls herself ‘The Peaceful Paleo’ and I wanted to know why she chose that name.  It started off as an acronym taught by a high school teacher. According to Natalie: “P.E.A.C.E — People Educating Accepting and Celebrating Everyone. This is what I wanted my website to be: A place for people to come together, share their experiences, and build a community of support. Thus, The Peaceful Paleo was born.”

I was curious to know how she adopted the Paleo diet.  “Originally, I had adopted a Gluten-Free diet as a result of some digestive issues I was having, however, the symptoms seemed to persist, and in some cases, worsen. From there, I cut out dairy and refined sugars (gradually) and started to feel a bit better, but still not 100%. After being diagnosed with MS a friend of mine recommended a book called ‘The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal your Body’ by Sarah Ballantyne, PhD. I began reading and decided that this diet made sense, not just because of being autoimmune but because it is based in science and history, not just the latest fad.”

Though her health has improved drastically since she has been on the Paleo diet, Natalie is still finding out which foods work better for her and which not, so it’s never really cut and dried.  As Natalie says, ” I am working on making the switch to Autoimmune Protocol or AIP (‘Paleo Approach’) which is a little stricter than a conventional Paleo diet, and I am taking it one step and one day at a time.”

Since our focus at kake2kale is on superfoods I asked how she incorporates them. The focus of the Paleo diet is on eating nutrient-rich foods that are not pro-inflammatory. Consequently, the diet is focused on eating unrefined, whole foods. As a result, there are many superfoods that fit into a Paleo diet, especially fruits, vegetables, proteins (minus Eggs for AIP), herbs & spices, nuts and Seeds; however in very limited quantities (except for AIP which avoids these foods). The main difference is that Paleo eliminates all grains and starches because they have similar scientific effects on the body as gluten does, being highly pro-inflammatory and contributing to leaky gutThis is all explained very thoroughly and comprehensively in the book, The Paleo Approach.”

I also asked Natalie about her favourite superfoods and how she likes to prepare them.  “My top 3 superfoods would have to be avocado, coconut (in all its wonderful forms) and beets. The main reason for this is that they are incredibly diverse! I bake a lot and definitely have a sweet tooth (partially because I am still an infant in the broad spectrum of those living the Paleo lifestyle), so being able to incorporate these delicious superfoods into my baking is not just delicious but also nutritious! Additionally, I cannot eat bananas so avocados are my main potassium source and a great source for fats to sustain me through the day. I eat avocado with everything. It is my favourite burger topping, I eat it plain sometimes, or use it as an egg substitute BUT my favourite thing to do with it is to add it to a salad. I often eat it for breakfast like this: 1/2 avocado cubed; 1 apple cubed; 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped, and some sort of fruity vinaigrette + whatever protein I am eating for breakfast. As for coconut, I use coconut flour mainly in all of my baking, and if I am having a protein shake, I mix it with coconut water. I love shredded coconut, especially in my Chewy Paleo granola bars.  I add beets to my Red Velvet Cake or I love to cut them thin, BBQ them and add them to my lettuce-wrapped burger as beet chips — delicious!

Natalie’s favourite dish is soup and bacon, which she sometimes has for breakfast.Last night’s leftovers are completely suitable at 6am the next morning, and if I want protein-pancakes for breakfast with bacon, then I do it!”  I love that there are no ‘should have’ in terms of breakfast, lunch and dinner, because earlier this week I had leftover pasta topped off with a fried egg for breakfast.” 

One of the main goals for eating Paleo is that it eliminates pro-inflammatory foods and yet red meat is known to be inflammatory, so I asked Natalie about this and she said grass fed beef actually does not promote inflammation and suggested I do some research into this.  You can read more about this topic here.  Thanks Natalie for opening my eyes and my stomach!

I wondered what her challenges are when eating at restaurants.   “Variety.  There are not many places I can go to eat ‘safely’ (meaning Paleo-friendly) that also have a decent selection for me to choose from (more than 2-3 options).  However, I have focused on finding restaurants that are willing to adapt.  Anywhere that is not a chain, or some of the higher end chains (like the Keg) tend to be very understanding and accommodating in my experience.  When in doubt, I just order a steak and veggies.

For my kake2kale recipes, I asked Natalie which are Paleo-friendly?  Her reply was that Kale Pesto with Potato and Egg would be acceptable if only sweet potatoes were used.  For the Cauliflower Steak, it would be Paleo if nutritional yeast and sherry were left out.  And, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups would be Paleo if almond butter replaced peanut butter.  Lastly, the 5-minute Chocolate Mousse is Paleo as is.

Finally, I asked what is the top advice she has for someone interested in adopting the Paleo diet. “I can only speak for myself and from my own experience, but I definitely needed to do things gradually, otherwise I would have been very overwhelmed.  I started with (cutting out) gluten, then dairy and sugar, grains and starches, and then legume.”

Will I become Paleo?  Well I don’t adhere to any one particular way of eating, but if I were to have health challenges, I would definitely give Paleo a good go, especially after meeting Natalie and hearing her story.

We asked Natalie to share a Paleo-superfood recipe.  Below is her Maple Smoked Sesame Crusted Salmon with Candied Pumpkin Seeds and Kale Slaw which serves 5-6 people.   It is superfood-friendly, scrumptious, and is definitely worth making!

Paleo Diet 2 kake2kale

Pumpkin-Spice Candied Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ – 2 Cups Pumpkin Seeds
  • ½ TSP each Cinnamon, Ginger, & Cayenne
  • ¼ TSP Nutmeg
  • 1/8 TSP Cloves & All Spice
  • 2 TBSP Maple Syrup or Honey
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

  •     Preheat oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  •     Mix together Maple Syrup or Honey with the spices.
  •     Add in Pumpkin Seeds and stir until seeds are evenly coated.
  •     Spread Pumpkin Seeds in a single layer on the parchment paper.
  •     Place in oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  •     Remove from oven, stir, and let cool entirely.

Paleo Diet 3 kake2kale

Paleo Pumpkin-Spiced Kale-Slaw

Ingredients

  • 1 Bundle Green Kale
  • 2 Medium Beets, Peeled & Shredded
  • 2-3 Large Carrots, Peeled & Shredded
  • 1 – ½ C Medjool Dates
  • 1 batch Pumpkin-Spice Candied Pumpkin Seeds *see above*
  • 1 batch Sesame & Apple Cider Vinaigrette *see below*

Directions

  • Wash and dry Kale thoroughly.
  • Cut Kale across the leaf in ½ inch-thick strips. Stop when the base of the leaf meets the stalk and discard the remaining stalk or save it for soup broth.
  • Place in a bowl.
  • Peel and shred beets and carrots and add to the bowl of Kale. Toss until all ingredients are thoroughly coated with the Sesame & Apple Cider Vinaigrette (below) and allow to sit in the fridge for a minimum 1 hour or up to overnight. The acid from the Apple Cider Vinegar will break down the starches of the beets making them softer to bite into.
  • Cut the dates lengthwise and remove the pit. The date will fold open like a butterfly. Cut down the middle, so the date is split into two, lengthwise halves. Then cut these halves lengthwise once more. You will have four strips. Cut these strips horizontally so that each yields 3-4 pieces. Do this with all the dates. (Of course you can chop the dates however you want, this is just how I do them to yield the size shown in the photograph).
  • When ready to serve, add the dates and the Pumpkin-Spice Candied Pumpkin Seeds to the slaw, toss, and plate. I initially served this slaw as a side for wings at a movie night I hosted, and the next time, I paired it with my Maple-Smoked Sesame-Coated Salmon – Delicious!

Paleo Diet 1 kake2kale

Sesame & Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Ingredients

  • ½ C EVOO
  • ¼ C + 1 ½ TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 TBSP each Sesame Oil & Coconut Aminos
  • Salt to taste

Direction

  •  Mix together EVOO & Apple Cider Vinegar by pouring one into the other slowly and whisking continuously.
  •  Add in Sesame Oil, Coconut Aminos, and Salt to taste. Mix thoroughly.

The dressing is under-seasoned because the spices from the Pumpkin-Spice Candied Pumpkin Seeds will integrate throughout the dish, bringing lots of flavour.

Paleo Diet 4 kake2kale

Paleo Maple-Smoked Sesame-Coated Salmon

Ingredients

  • 5 – 4oz Salmon Fillets
  • ¼ C Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ¼ C + 2 TBSP Maple Syrup
  • Liquid Smoke
  • ½ C + 2 TBSP Water
  • 1 C toasted Sesame Seeds
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Grapeseed Oil

Directions

  • For the marinade, mix together Apple Cider Vinegar, ¼ C Maple Syrup, ½ C Water & 3-4 splashes Liquid Smoke. Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
  •  Place Salmon Fillets skin-side down in a glass pyrex baking dish or equivalent large enough that they are not overlapping. Pour marinade over Salmon. Cover and place Salmon in the fridge, setting a timer for 30 minutes. Fish is very delicate and will begin to cook if marinated for more than 30 minutes. Additionally, this is as long as it takes for fish to absorb flavour, so any marinating in addition to this is unnecessary.
  • Preheat oven to 350˚F.
  • While Salmon is marinating, mix together 2 TBSP Maple Syrup, a few splashes of Liquid Smoke, and 2 TBSP water in a shallow plate.
  • Cover another place entirely with toasted sesame seeds. If you want to add additional Salt or Pepper, add it to the seeds.
  • Prepare 5 square sheets of aluminum foil by placing them shiny-side up, and putting a small dot of Grapeseed Oil in the centre of each one (~ 1 TBSP).
  • When the fish is done marinating, remove each piece one at a time from the liquid. Dip it flesh-side into the Maple Syrup mixture, and then into the sesame seeds, and lay it in the centre of the foil, skin-side down. Fold the foil to create a small house shape around the fish so that the foil is not touching the sesame seeds. Repeat for all fillets and place them on a baking sheet.
  • Place the baking sheet into the oven for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the oven to broil and open up the houses. Let the salmon cook an additional 2-5 minutes at this temperature or until the seeds are golden brown.
  • Remove from the oven and enjoy with a generous helping of Paleo Pumpkin-Spiced Kale Slaw.

Paleo Diet 6 kake2kale

Thank you Natalie for sharing your inspiring story, insights about the Paleo diet, and recipe with us!!  You can find her blog at www.ThePeacefulPaleo.com.

Eat healthy, live like you mean it! {Kake}

Is it Japanese Lasagna or Italian Sushi?

The first lasagna I ever had was made from the generosity of a stranger.  This was shortly after we emigrated from Hong Kong and Mom was shopping at Safeway.  She returned home with a handwritten lasagna recipe given to her by another grocery shopper.  That night Mom made it, much to everyone’s delight.  She shared how this stranger took the time to write out the recipe then escorted her around the store to choose the ingredients. At that time, I thought of how Canada was a wonderful land and that Canadians were genuinely kind. It was probably a very insignificant act for the stranger, but to my family, we tasted the deliciousness of generosity that night.

As that stranger knew, lasagna is one of those fail proof dishes that even a first timer can’t ruin. I am almost positive that you could sneak in lawn clippings and coffee grounds and no one would be the wiser.  Don’t worry; this week’s original recipe doesn’t include any lawn clippings or coffee.

Seaweed Lasagna Roll 1 Kake2Kale
One day, {Kale} mentioned that she had some seaweed in her pantry and asked if I could do something with it.  It was actually giant kelp and on the back of the package was a recipe for seaweed lasagna.  But what a disappointment! It was basically a regular lasagna recipe that just exchanged the noodles for seaweed.  Instead, I thought about my favourite way to eat seaweed… SUSHI!  What could be more crowd pleasing than a California roll? So, is my new seaweed creation considered Italian sushi or Japanese lasagna?  Either way, {Kale} and I enjoyed the finished product very much.

Before you jump into making this recipe, there’s a caveat.  Remember those stand-up menus in sushi restaurants that had the various types of sushi listed and some were labeled “challenging”?  I suppose this recipe could be considered “challenging” if you make it as is.  The challenging ingredient is the giant kelp because it is quite chewy and has a strong “sea” taste.  So if you’d like to try the recipe but are not sure if you want to go for the gusto, then I’d suggest using nori.  I’ve put an addendum to the recipe.  Nori is the seaweed that is commonly used to make sushi. It is milder, and lighter.

I’d like to dedicate this post to my dear friend Jo who left us much too young from her battle with cancer.  Jo was a master herbalist whose life was very much in tune with nature.  I loved it when she shared her knowledge and the fruits of her labour with me.  She had been working on a precedent setting municipal vegetable garden.  Every summer she would collect kelp and drape it all over her apartment to dry and then bundle it up in silk pouches to be sold at craft fairs as bath detoxifiers. She took the time to find just the right colour of silk and handpicked each strand of kelp.  I always felt refreshed after one of her seaweed baths. In case this inspires you to try this, you can reuse the pouches up to 10 times and just dry them afterwards.

Jo would have been tickled by my sushi inspired lasagna, not only because of the kelp but for the Asian twist that I added.  Jo was adventurous in many ways and trying new foods was definitely one of them.  Though she was of British stock, she joked about having Asian blood in her because she loved foods like congee, dumplings, tofu.  This one’s for you beautiful Jo!

Seaweed Lasagna Roll 2 Kake2Kale

Superfoods in this Recipe:
Seaweed:  Contains many nutrients and is especially high in iron and iodine. Iodine can help with supporting a sluggish thyroid. Also contains minerals that are important for strong bones.
Tofu:  Soy has had some bad press, but I always say, everything in moderation.  When I lived in Hong Kong as a child, I would have a chilled bottle of soymilk (sold like cola) as a weekly treat.  But here, it becomes a replacement for dairy milk, and is consumed everyday.    Tofu is high in protein, calcium has lots of soy isoflavones, that may decrease bone loss due to menopause.
Avocado:  Contains high amount of potassium, vitamins K, B complex, C and E. Rich source of monosaturated fat which is a good fat, can help with lowering cholesterol and reducing the risk of strokes.
Crab:  High in protein and minerals like zinc, iron, calcium and copper, as well as Omega 3’s.  It is also abundant in selenium, which is an antioxidant and plays a role in thyroid health.

California Roll Lasagna serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 8 lasagna noodles (may replace with Gluten Free noodles)
  • 8 sheets giant kelp*
  • 250 gm medium firm tofu
  • 1 large avocado
  • 120 gm crabmeat
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 t. black pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup Bechamel sauce**

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Cut 8 strips of tin foil to approximate the width and length of the noodles.
  • Boil the noodles according to the instructions on the box.
  • While noodles are boiling, blend the tofu, avocado, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a food processor or blender.  Stir in the crab meat once it is blended.
  • When the noodles still have 2 minutes left to cook, add the kelp.
  • Drain the noodles and kelp.
  • Lay the tin foil out then lay a strip of kelp, then a lasagne noodle, spread with a thick layer of the tofu crab mixture.  Then roll up and put in a casserole dish.
  • Continue until all eight are rolled.  Top each with some béchamel sauce.
  • Bake for 20 minutes.  Unwrap the rolls and serve topped with more béchamel sauce and sprinkle of parsley.

*Nori version
Take 3 sheets of nori and cut each sheet into 3 long strips, you will have one leftover.  Boil the noodles, drain.  Then lay out the noodles onto the foil, place a strip of dry nori onto the noodles and spread the tofu mixture on top.  Carry on as above.

Bechamel Sauce

  • 1T. butter
  • 1 T. flour (or GF flour)
  • 1 cup milk (non-dairy is fine)
  • Salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat.
  • Add the flour, stirring constantly, letting the flour cook for about 2 minutes until it gets a nice brown colour.
  • Add the milk, stir constantly until the sauce thickens, and coats the back of a spoon.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to your taste.

This recipe is perfect for tweaking. If you want you can add more crab or avocado, some herbs, or if you prefer, to use cream cheese instead of tofu.  Make this recipe your own and let me know how it goes.

Eat healthy, live great! {Kake}

Seaweed Lasagna Roll 3 Kake2Kale